Marcus Rashford, Harry Kane, Christian Pulisic & the players PSG should target to reignite their failing project
PSG need to be more like Bayern Munich.
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The Bavarians have nailed their recruitment in recent years, pinching the best young talent from across the Bundesliga, while also relying on a handful of homegrown players to build a self-sustaining machine. It was, ultimately, the difference between the two sides in their Champions League knockout tie.
Bayern were able to call on a series of shrewd buys and academy talents to push for a crucial second goal. PSG countered with an imperfect mix of teenagers and mediocre veterans.
These teams are, of course, not built in one transfer window. But there is a clear path for PSG to achieve that kind of model.
And this summer, they might just have the chance. One or more of Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Lionel Messi appears poised for a move, while the likes of Sergio Ramos, Juan Bernat and Carlos Soler could also leave.
The Parisians, then, have holes to fill, with both star players and squad depth required. The good news for PSG is they have the financial resources and pedigree to bring in some top players. Manager Christophe Galtier might also be on his way out, and perhaps a new project could lure in some big names.
GOAL takes a look at who the Parisians could target in the summer...
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Rafael Leao, AC Milan
The winger has been back and forth on a potential Milan exit and given his side are now in the last eight of the Champions League, Leao might be more inclined to stay in Serie A.
Still, PSG undoubtedly have a draw, and they will likely have a need, too. Rapid and direct, the Portuguese is a real one-on-one threat, capable of running in behind. But his crossing ability and link up play have improved this year, and the signs of an all-round winger are there.
The Parisians will face competition from Chelsea, but assuming one of the big three leave, they can also guarantee playing time — something the London club simply cannot.
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Marcus Rashford, Manchester United
Here's a rumour that just won't go away.
Rashford is, as has been mentioned on many occasions of late, in the form of his life. That'll either lead to a handsome contract extension at Manchester United or a large offer from elsewhere — perhaps one that even the Red Devils couldn't refuse.
Rashford is a United boy, whose biggest moment in professional football came against PSG, when he knocked them out of the Champions League with a last-minute penalty in 2019. But should he opt to leave, there's no chance Rashford pens a deal with another Premier League side.
A European move, then, makes the most sense - and Rashford strutting his stuff at the Parc de Princes would be well worth a watch.
Victor Osimhen, Napoli
Napoli will likely face a battle to hold onto their star players this summer following a legendary season. They have already locked up Serie A, and are a trendy pick to go all the way in the Champions League.
Osimhen is at the centre of it all. Tall, fast and a quality finisher, he has all the makings of a dominant no. 9. Man Utd are allegedly interested — and certainly need a central striker - but at PSG, the Nigerian would have freedom to score goals by the bucket-load and would make a fearsome forward duo with Mbappe.
Napoli would want a hefty fee for their star man, but money is never going to be an issue for the Parisians.
Harry Kane, Tottenham
Harry Kane is 29-years-old, and if he stays at Tottenham will undoubtedly become the Premier League's all-time top goalscorer. And that's about it.
Spurs are unlikely to compete for the league, and their performance in the Champions League did little to inspire long term confidence in Europe.
PSG will certainly offer the chance to snag some silverware. The Parisians are a lock to win the league every year, and are perennial favourites to capture the Coupe de France, too. A Premier League move might make sense, but could Kane do that to Spurs?
PSG seems like the easy route out, while it was also offer him a sure-fire way to end his trophy drought.
Randal Kolo Muani, Frankfurt
PSG are really supposed to be the team that young French talent gravitates to.
Paris is among the best footballing cities in the world, with immense pedigree and new stars coming through the ranks in bunches. Randal Kolo Muani would be the next in that wave.
He was burdened with Thierry Henry comparisons in his early years but has carved out his own style since moving to Eintracht Frankfurt. An excellent dribbler with an eye for goal, Kolo Muani would make an ideal central striker in PSG's system. He's well-rounded, too, with 11 goals and 10 assists to his name in the Bundesliga this year.
His work rate and willingness to run for the team should also add an injection of energy should the Parisians elect to become a more proactive side.
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Ansu Fati, Barcelona
Barcelona president Joan Laporta made it clear earlier this week that the Blaugrana are looking to get rid of an attacking player. With Robert Lewandowski and Ousmane Dembele as stalwarts, Raphinha finding form, and Ferran Torres earning manager Xavi's faith, Ansu Fati looks like the most likely to leave.
The La Masia product has become a polarising figure among Barca fans of late. Although he's clearly immensely talented, the youngster is enduring a miserable run of form, and has been wasteful in front of goal. A change of scenery could be exactly what he needs to turn things around - and PSG could offer that.
Marcus Thuram, Borussia Monchengladbach
Thuram is another dynamic French forward, although whether he could start for the Parisians remains to be seen. Although he's a talented ball-carrier and solid finisher, Thuram isn't the man to lead the line for PSG. And it's unlikely that he ever will.
But PSG don't necessarily need a starter. Thuram, instead, could be a valuable option off the bench, especially if the Parisians are chasing the game. He has the intelligence to time a pass, and dribbling ability to take on an opposing full-back. As a top level squad player, it's hard to find a better option.
That he's available on a free transfer summer is even more appealing.
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Christian Pulisic, Chelsea
Can Christian Pulisic's Chelsea career be considered a success?
The American has enjoyed some impressive runs in London, but injuries and inconsistencies have kept his Premier League career from taking off. The club made it known that they wanted to get rid of him, with reports emerging that Pulisic would have left in January had he not picked up an injury.
PSG could be an attractive destination for the USMNT icon to reboot his career. He would have a clear path to playing time, star in a more proactive side, and perhaps benefit without the stressors of being an American in England.
The Ligue 1 leaders would certainly gain from a marketing perspective, too. Wherever Pulisic goes, American fans will follow, which would mean a spike in commercial revenue. This looks like a good deal for both parties, then - on and off the pitch.
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Florian Wirtz, Bayer Leverkusen
Bayer Leverkusen's results have been inconsistent under new manager Xabi Alonso, but it's not all been bad. Wirtz has been one of the main beneficiaries of the Spaniard's arrival.
The 19-year-old was one of the most promising attacking talents in Europe last year before rupturing his ACL. He's finally coming into form, and big clubs are interested.
PSG would be an enticing fit, especially if Neymar leaves. While Wirtz is not a replacement for the legendary Brazilian, he's a more well-rounded attacking midfielder, and far more inclined to pull the strings as a no. 10. And at 19, the sky is the limit.
Rayan Cherki, Lyon
PSG have made little secret of their interest in Lyon's young star Rayan Cherki. Galtier tried to lure Cherki to Paris in the January transfer window, but Lyon made it clear that he was not for sale at any price.
The club might have another go this summer, though, and with room in the squad and more willingness to spend, Cherki could be a PSG player by the 2023-24 season.
The teenager is an attacking midfielder, not dissimilar to Wirtz. But perhaps Philippe Coutinho is a more appropriate comparison. Two-footed, skillful and decisive in the final third, he could be the mobile creator that PSG can build around for the next decade.
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Jude Bellingham, Borussia Dortmund
Everyone wants a piece of Jude Bellingham. And why wouldn't they? He's 19 and already one of the best centre-midfielders in the world.
There is little that the Dortmund star cannot do, and he would walk into pretty much any team in Europe. Liverpool and Real Madrid are reportedly the front-runners for his signature, but PSG can certainly outbid any team for him.
The Parisians lack midfield creativity above all else. With Vitinha and Danilo Pereira holding, Bellingham would have license to get forward and support the attack. The perfect fit, in other words.
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Eduardo Camavinga, Real Madrid
This is all dependent on where Bellingham ends up. If the Englishman lands at Real Madrid, Eduardo Camavinga could seek a move away. He was reportedly in the mix to leave in January, but manager Carlo Ancelotti insisted that he stayed.
Should even more competition arise, Camavinga's head could turn to the French capital. PSG makes sense as a destination, especially for a young player who would get to impress on the big stage without any threat of losing his place to more senior squad members. He would form a fearsome pivot with Marco Verratti, too.
Kouadio Kone, Borussia Monchengladbach
PSG are reportedly interested in bringing Kouadio Kone in for centre-midfield depth, and it's easy to see why.
The 21-year-old brings a bit of everything to the table, but is an excellent dribbler and solid tackler. He also has the defensive instincts to operate as a deep-lying midfielder in a 4-3-3, if needed.
That he is French and competing for a spot on the senior team only makes him even more attractive. And at his age, he still has a lot of development to come. Kone could be the future.
Ryan Gravenberch, Bayern Munich
He was on the other bench as PSG lost to Bayern in the Champions League, and how Galtier must have wished to have a player of Ryan Gravenberch's ilk to call on.
The young Dutch midfielder can do it all. A talented progressor with surprising creative chops, Gravenberch was just starting to come into his own when he moved to Bayern before the 2022-23 season. It was an odd switch for a player who clearly needed to be on the pitch as much as possible.
Ryan Gravenberch produced an unreal strike yesterday against Leeds 🤩pic.twitter.com/kH1jNBgVNZ— GOAL (@goal) August 5, 2021
Julian Nagelsmann hasn't called on him with regularity, giving rise to exit rumours - or even raising the possibility of a loan move. PSG could be an ideal new home.
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Josko Gvardiol, RB Leipzig
Everyone wants Josko Gvardiol. One of the breakout stars of the 2022 World Cup, the Croatian impressed with a series of standout showings as Croatia made yet another surprisingly deep run.
Josko Gvardiol stocks are through the roof 📈 pic.twitter.com/7bG5MgSXCx— GOAL (@goal) December 17, 2022
Gvardiol has the potential to be world class, especially if put in the right side. And who better to learn from than Marquinhos and the incoming Milan Skriniar? He might not be ready for consistent minutes at a top European side yet; PSG would allow him to settle into the side.
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Jeremie Frimpong, Bayer Leverkusen
PSG will need to reconfigure their backline next season. With potential outgoings, as well as some new faces such as El Chadaille Bitshiabu not quite ready to take the next step, the Parisians could quickly find themselves lacking in depth. Frimpong would offer cover in a number of areas, while also potentially starting at either full-back position.
Although the Netherlands international is naturally a right-back, he can play as a right-wing-back, or even as a fully-fledged right-midfielder if needed. It's also not hard to imagine Frimpong offering something on the left. He's the kind of versatile defender that PSG need.
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Joao Cancelo, Man City
What a confusing case.
Joao Cancelo was the best left-back in the Premier League for stretches last year, and was included in FIFA's Best XI just two weeks ago.
He's also been exiled from Pep Guardiola's City set up, and now finds himself struggling for minutes under Nagelsmann at Bayern. Something is clearly wrong behind the scenes, but he's the kind of player who might be worth the risk. A world-class passer and underrated defender, Cancelo can offer a rare creative spark from a full-back position. The image of him pinging balls to a surging Mbappe is too good to pass up.